Finally, there is some good news for the cinema-goers in the national capital as the government has given permission to the cinema hall operators to open their facilities from October 15 — almost 8 months after lockdown was imposed in the country to curb the spread of Covid-19 pandemic.
The central government has given the nod to open cinema halls, theatres, multiplexes in the country with 50 per cent capacity.
The cinema hall operators here are currently engaged in making preparations to ensure all Covid-related protocols are maintained, as they are getting ready to welcome patrons after a long period of time.
Each individual would undergo thermal screening after entering the theatres, and only those without symptoms would be allowed to enter the cinema screening halls.
At the same time, more windows have to be opened for booking tickets in a single screen. However, online ticketing will also be available, so that at least people come in contact with one another. Apart from that, phone numbers of viewers would also be noted for contact tracing.
During the film screening, it would be mandatory for the people to wear masks. After the end of a show, the entire hall would be sanitised, before the start of the second show.
Since the process is going to be time taking, only 3-4 shows could be shown in a day.
Cinema halls in Delhi were closed in March due to the Coronavirus triggered lockdown. Under this, approval has been given to open theatres from October 15.
According to an estimation, since lockdown, the cinema hall operators in Delhi have suffered a loss of about Rs 3,000 crore.
Delhi has 130 screens and 50 theatres, including multiplexes. Along with the economic loss, a large number of people have also lost their jobs.
Rajkumar Mehrotra, CEO of Delite Cinemas, told IANS: “The cinema industry has suffered a lot in the last 8 months. Let’s guess, there has been a loss of around Rs 3,000 crore to 4,000 crore."
“We have made changes in theatres and all the government guidelines will be followed completely. Sanitisation will be done after every show," he added.
Mehrotra said that theatres would have thermal screenings, packed food packets, whereas earlier there were 5 to 6 shows, which would reduce from 3 to 4 in a day.
He hopes that in the upcoming festive season might help the cinema hall operators get a good response, by Diwali, “life should be back on track".
PVR Cinemas has also made preparations for the ‘new normal’ scheme of things.
Only canned food or beverages will be allowed inside theatres. Besides, provisions have been made for gloves, shoes, masks, PPE kits etc. for the safety of the cleaning staff.
The AC temperature will be kept between 24 and 30 degrees Celsius along with the appropriate arrangement of ventilation in the cinema halls.
It will also be mandatory to arrange social distance during the entry and exit of people at the start, interval and end of the show. Changes are being made in theatres.
Gautam Dutta, CEO of PVR Cinemas, said: “We promise that we will follow the ministry guidelines. We have made full preparations for this.
“We are hopeful that in the coming times, most of the state governments will allow the cinema halls to reopen, as we will pay proper attention towards maintaining the safety of the people," he said.